With Finn now in school I’m finding myself at a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself when I have the afternoon off. Late last week that equated to me driving around RVA looking for someplace to nosh and enjoy a bevvie. Sadly, most places are closed at 3 or 4 in the afternoon so the choices are limited. As I tried to go over the short list in my head I realized I really just wanted to go someplace new. Luck would have it that my aimless travels had me close to Carytown and the newest place to grace the restaurant scene, Mezzanine. My hopes were dashed in that they were not open (currently opening at 5:30). I did, however, get something a little special. The kitchen staff were out sitting on the patio and were in a chatty mood.
I walked away with some interesting information.
The basic theme (if you could call it that – more like a philosophy) is to focus on fresh, local and regional ingredients with an emphais on produce from local farmers. They are not going to go totally organic but are going to strive to pick suppliers who use minimal pesticides and try to avoid growth hormones and antibiotics. Expect the menu to change rapidly, especially in the first few months, as they try different suppliers and see what works and what doesn’t.
I really like this approach. Rather than impose a theme on the menu they are going to let it evolve based on results and, quite possibly, feedback. I’ve seen some places stick to a failed idea and sink while waiting for it to ‘catch on’. If the chef here is good (I didn’t catch his name) and creative we may very well have some exciting things going on here.
Realizing that you have to walk before you can run they are going to expand their offerings as they work the kinks out (ever been someplace that thought they could do it all on day one and manage to do nothing right?). The chefs all sounded very passionate about food and I’ve found that attitude often translates onto the plate. If they have the skills we could be seeing some very exciting dishes coming out of that kitchen.
It also sounds like they will start opening earlier as more people come and may have good munchies to help down that afternoon glass of wine or martini on their patio.
The rumour of raw bar offerings is an idea on the radar screen there that they haven’t fully fleshed out. Something that perishable needs a good purveyor and a steady stream of customers to avoid bad bivalves. If they decide to add the raw bar I’ll be excited to see what approach they take.
So far I like what I see and think they will be busy. That’s a good thing. Of course, then there’s the RTD reporter who loves the place but seems to imply that it won’t be worth going once it gets busy. Personally I prefer restaurants that are inclusive and busy rather than elitist and exclusionary. She must get that from her boyfriend….